The Judicial Executive Board (‘JEB’), through which the Lord Chief Justice exercises executive and leadership responsibilities for the judiciary, has published its response to a consultation concerning possible reforms to the courts’ approach to lay individuals, commonly known as McKenzie Friends, who help individuals who litigate without the assistance of a lawyer. The consultation was launched by the JEB in 2016, following concerns about the growth in reliance on McKenzie Friends, particularly fee-charging ones, as a result if the legal aid cuts in 2013.
The response stated that:
“The JEB remain deeply concerned about the proliferation of McKenzie Friends who in effect provide professional services for reward when they are unqualified, unregulated, uninsured and not subject to the same professional obligations and duties, both to their clients and the courts, as are professional lawyers.”
The response did not, however, recommend that there should be a ban on fee-charging McKenzie Friends, saying that that is a matter for the government to consider. Instead, the JEB support the view that a ‘plain language guide’ for McKenzie Friends and litigants-in-person should be produced, and that the current practice guidance on McKenzie Friends should be updated and reissued, to ensure that it properly reflects the current law.
You can read the Consultation Response here.
Family Law Cafe shares the judiciary’s concerns over McKenzie Friends. If you need legal assistance for a family law problem then your best course of action is to instruct a professional lawyer, who you can be sure is qualified to help you, is fully regulated and insured. We can put you in touch with such a lawyer. However, we recognise that not everyone can afford to pay for a lawyer to represent them throughout a case. For that reason we offer a personalised service that takes into account your financial situation, allowing you to choose what level of service you want and can afford.
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Image: St Georges Hall Court Room, by Michael D Beckwith, public domain.